Local shirt designer stays true to his values

My Top 3 Shirt, Cleveland, Ohio

Bryan Straniero's love of lists and entrepreneurial spirit led him to launch My Top 3, a line of fair trade tee shirts, earlier this year. The local shirt designer has an Etsy shop where users can purchase customized shirts featuring their top three cities, writers, restaurants... anything, really. We chatted with Straniero via email about starting a t-shirt line, opening an Etsy shop and why fair trade is important. See his answers below:

What made you decide to open your Etsy shop?

I was drinking my Equal Exchange coffee one morning earlier this year and was simply inspired by an artist in the newspaper. She had these shirts with her handwriting of random phrases on them. It sparked my love for handwriting and lists and eventually led me to this concept of all-time lists on shirts. I had always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and this seemingly everyday moment finally pushed me to get an idea out there to the world, to make it a tangible reality. If the Etsy shop grows, I can consider furthering my options.

Why is fair trade important to you?

Fair trade is imperative to me because it holistically cares for each person from start to finish in the making of a product. Fair trade is a movement that I have deeply believed in since I learned about it early in college. It is truly a beautiful way to make the world a better place. Workers are empowered and lives are improved. People over profit.

Why did you decide to focus on "top 3" lists?

I’ve always had an obsession with all-time lists. The conversations that a personalized My Top 3 tee promotes are exciting, and the possibility of finding common ground with others even brighter. I have also extended My Top 3’s reach to include printing logos for businesses, bands, teams, events, etc. onto fair trade tees. I believe in the fair trade brand I use for base shirts, called HAE (Humans, Animals, Environment) Now. I want anyone who needs shirts to have an option of getting their art onto a HAE Now shirt rather than the many popular exploitative brands that, unfortunately, exist.

What advice would you give to someone starting a fashion-related business in Cleveland?

Just be creative and give your idea a chance to fly. If you never put it out there, you will never know.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

My inspiration comes from a desire to be creative, encourage creativity among others, and bring an ethical option to the custom tee market. Everyone can use a fun top 3 shirt, and many people eventually need shirts for their business, band, team or event.

What is the best piece of style advice you've ever received?

My wife, Laura, says “be yourself.”


Learn more about My Top 3 shirts on Etsy and on Facebook.

Monday, November 6, 2017